Posts Tagged ‘Yermolinsky’

The Fabulous 10’s: When Scorpions Attack (Each Other)

November 13, 2010

Intra-Scorpion Matchups at the 2010 Arizona State Championship

When two Arizona Scorpions play OTB, it’s always a hard-fought encounter.

In Danny Rensch’s tournament the Copper State International (Mesa 2010) I sacked an exchange to reach what I thought was a promising attack with a well-cooperating queen and knight duo.  However, my opponent Robby Adamson had more resources than I thought, and went on to score a victory and a final IM norm!

Does somebody have that game score? I want to post it here.

More recently, the 2010 Arizona State closed championship is underway.  We’ve already had many Scorp/Scorp matchups.

Here’s an interesting encounter from Round 1.

AZ State Championship  Tucson, AZ  11/12/10  Round 1

David Adelberg (2277) – Mark Ginsburg (2446)  Modern Defense

1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Bg4 Not a scare system, but Timman did use it to draw the solid Lajos Portisch in Wijk aan Zee, 1975 (an excellent tournament book by RHM Press covering that event!).

5. e3 c5 6. Be2 The plan for better or worse is 6. dxc5 Bxc3+!? 7. bxc3 dxc5.   I think Leonid Bass played Adelberg’s way against me in the 1980s.

6…cd 7. ed Nc6 8. d5 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Ne5 10. Be2 White could castle and leave the B on f3 for the moment.


White deviates from Portisch's Recipe

11. f4!? Deviating from Portisch-Timman where white put a bishop rather passively on d2.  In that game, Timman’s queen got to d4 via b6 and black was very active, holding a draw comfortably.

11…Nd7 12. Be3 Nf5 13. Bf2 h5 Black cements his knight on f5 but is left with not that much to do.  White has to be a bit better.

14. O-O Bxc3 Not very inspiring.  15. bxc3 Nf6 16. Bd3 Qd7 I really didn’t like my game and offered a draw.  White thought for some time and declined; however his next few moves don’t meet the requirements of the position as Soviet chess analysts used to like to say.

17. Qc2 Now, or soon, I would as white play a rook to the b-file and then advance with a2-a4-a5.  White is better.

17…O-O 18. Rae1 Again, I would play a rook to the b-file.

18…Rfe8 19. Re2?! This is the most serious gaffe so far. The mechanical doubling on the e-file allows black’s next which gives black much needed breathing space.  White should have simply prevented the b5 break.

19….b5!  20. Rfe1 bxc4 21. Bxc4 Rec8! 22. Ba6? A big lemon.  Black is just better after the obvious sac in reply.

22…Nxd5 Of course.  23. Bxc8 Rxc8 And now it’s very hard for white to defend.  Black just stays compact and uses the Q & Knights combination to effectively attack, whereas white’s rooks completely lack coordination.

Very hard for white to hold on in practical play

24. Rc1 Nxf4 25. Re4 e5! This is strong because the black queen gains access to g5 (see 27th move for black).

26. Bg3 Ne6 It’s easy for black to play. The Bishop on g3 isn’t doing anything so black just grabs space and goes back on the attack in a few moves.

27. Qa4 Qe7! Going to g5.  A false trail would be to occupy the a8-g2 diagonal (although tempting) as the g5 square is much more productive.

28. Rc4 Rd8 Just staying out of the way in order to resume the attack momentarily.  29. Qa3 Qg5 The end is near now.  30. Qb2 h4 31. Be1 Nf4 And now it’s resignable; white loses back material with a two-pawn deficit.

The Two Knights Attack

I credit GM Yermolinsky with my coherent middle-game play.   Out of the many times I played him, in one specific game (I think in Las Vegas), he instructively time and again put his pieces where they coordinated and stayed compact.  He explained his thinking process as just that, staying compact.    My 25th through 28th moves were all exactly that – a compact formation that can uncoil and grab more space.

32. Qd2 Nothing else to do.   32…Nd3 and 32….Ne2+ were both threatened and white can’t stop both.  32…Ne2+ 33. Qxe2 Qxc1 34. Rc7 Rb8 It’s over.

35. Qd2 Rb1 36. Qxc1 Rxc1 37. Kf1 Rc2 38. Rxa7 Ne3+ 39. Kg1 Rxg2+ 40. Kh1 h3 Completing white’s king’s entombment.  41. a4 Ng4 42. a5 Rxh2+ 43. Kg1 Rg2+ 44. Kh1 Ra2 45 Kg1 h2+ and white finally resigned.


To Adelberg’s credit, he bounced back in Round 2 and in a sharp Sozin Najdorf as black, defeated fellow Scorp IM Aldama.

In other Scorp action, Levon Altounian won with a 2. c3 Sicilian vs NM Nick Thompson and when I left the playing hall tonight after drawing IM Altounian, NM Thompson was battling NM Adelberg.

After 4 rounds I was in the lead with 3.5 out of 4.  My nearest competitors were Altounian and Adelberg with 3 out of 4.  They were due to play in the last round and I had black against fellow Scorp, IM Dionysio Aldama.    I had just come off a very long game, eventually winning in a Sicilian Kan vs NM Nick Thompson.  Altounian wound up making a draw with white vs Adelberg’s solid Slav, so it turned out all I needed was a draw for clear first.  The problem, though, was that I achieved the most unpleasant of situations: a winning position in the opening!

Round 5 (final round)

IM Aldama – Ginsburg  Tricky Eugene Meyer Sicilian

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. f4 d5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Nf6 6. Ne5 I think 6. e5 is much more common, but black will try the same trickery as the game (early disrupting c5-c4).

6….Qc7 7. Qe2 (7. Qf3!? is a move that occurred to me at the moment, pressuring d5, not sure if it’s anything real) 7….Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10. d3 c4!

Eugene Meyer move

As shown and played by Eugene Meyer.  Black achieves excellent dynamic play.

11. dxc4 Ba6 12. Bd2? A weak move.  White needs b2-b3.  12…Nd7 13. exd5 cxd5 14. Rfe1

After the game my opponent asked me what I would play on 14. Nxd7.  Can I take on c4, I inquired?  No!  14. Nxd7 Bxc4 15. Nxd5!! wins for white!  If I stopped to think here, I would find 14. Nxd7 Qxd7! and black has a great game.

14…Nxe5 15. dxe5 Qxc4?! Although black of course stands well now, there was no reason to pass up 15…Qb6+! 16. Kh1 Qxb2 17. Rac1 Bxc4.  I was worried that my pieces could not easily aid my king after, e.g, 18. Qg4, but of course that’s not a real attack.

16. Qxc4 Bxc4  17. Nd1 White needs to regroup his terribly placed pieces. 17…Rfc8 18. Be3 f6 An interesting moment. I also have 18…f5!? and I also have 18…Ba6!? just leaving the f-pawn alone for the moment. 

19. Bd4

Position after 19. Bd4

Here, I could play the “Dzindzihashvili bypass maneuver” with 19…f5!? with the idea of further space gains on the kingside, g7-g5, and so on.  White can do little. I am calling it this because I saw GM Roman do it once – offer a pawn exchange then craftily bypass the next move, ruling out en passant!  My chosen move is not bad either.

19…fxe5 20. Bxe5 Bc5+ 21. Ne3 White is barely holding on.  I started wondering about Rc8-f8-f1+ but that leads nowhere.

21…Ba6 22. c3 Bd3 At this point Adelberg looked solid (he in fact did hold the draw) so I offered a draw; I still thought black was better.  Aldama refused and played:

23. Rad1 Be4 24. b4 Well, white has to do something! 24…Bb6 25. a4

Position after 25. a4

25…a6? I played this inaccurate move quickly.  After the game Altounian pointed out the very strong and fairly obvious 25….a5! with the idea 26. b5 Rc4!.  Clearly my brain was not working too well after the prior rounds (some of them very long).    To make matters worse, Aldama was going off for quick rejuvenating smoke breaks quite often.  He was gaining energy!

26. a5 Ba7 27. h3 Rc4 At least I found this safety move -coupled with black’s next it *should* remove all danger!

28. Kh2 Bxe3 Of course this plan handing over the bishop pair was not required and perhaps even suspect, I was just afraid of any specter of N vs B endings.  But why give up the bishop pair like this?

29. Rxe3 Rf8 30. Rd4 Rf2! This rook never should have left the seventh rank!

31. Rg3 g6 How can black lose?   The problem was I started thinking about using both rooks to attack white’s king and win!

Position after 31....g6

32. Rg4 I had no idea what white was up to besides the Rgxe4 trick. I considered the safe 32…Rxd4 with a complete draw but decided just to bring the c-rook around to the f-file.  A bad practical decision!

32…Rc8 Not a bad move, but white now plays the shocking:

33. Rgxe4! The only chance to get out of the bind!  I completely fail to reorient.

33…dxe4 34. Rxe4 A transformation!  Black should now be paying attention to the majority and find the obvious 34…Rc2! defending and keeping the pawns at bay.  Needless to say, black is fine there.  Altounian’s computer said black is practially winning!  Instead I unfurled

34…Rf5?? An example of not thinking anymore.  I was luring white to play the incomprehensible 35. g4? then I play 35…Rf3!.  See the note to black’s 30th move!

He quickly played instead the unpleasant: 35. c4! and now white’s pawns are a huge headache.  I saw nothing better than the lame game continuation:

35…Kf7 36. b5 Ke7 37. b6 Rxe5 38. Rxe5 (38. b7? Rec5) 38…Rxc4 39. Rb5! Yes, I saw that one coming.  Not a nice turn of events with white very low on time but with moves like this available.  It now appears that white wins, barely, in the upcoming rook ending by one tempo.  Brutal!

Position after 39. Rb5!

39….Rc8 40. b7 Rb8 41 Rb6 Kd7 42. Kg3 e5 43. Kf3 Kc7 44. Ke4 Rxb7 Fortunately white loses by one tempo if he plays 45. Rxb7 here, at least that is what I calculated. I guess Aldama thought the same thing so he played 45. Rxa6 and now I found 45…Rb3! creating problems by going for the g3 square!   Drama continues!

Position after 45...Rb3!

A very interesting rook ending.  I think white played the right way now:  46. Rf6 (!) Rg3 47. Rf2 Kb7 48. Kxe5.

At this point black can go for the 48…g5 move to keep the rook on g3, but it appears he gets broken down by zugzwang:  white puts the rook on the a-file and keeps the white king close to the g5 pawn; black runs out of moves.  Similarly, 48…h5 and 49…h4 also lose to a zugzwang.  Black tried another option which also lost (barely).

48…Rg5+ 49. Kf6 Rxa5 50. Kg7 Rh5 This position is a little tricky!  51. Rf3! White aims for g2-g4 trapping the rook.

Position after 51. Rf3!

51…g5 Trying for a g5-g4 trick.

52. Rf6!   White has it all worked out. 52…g4 Last try!  53. hxg4 Rg5+ 54. Kxh7 Rxg4 55. Rg6 With a book win. G-pawns are surprisingly easy to win.

55…Rh4+ 56. Kg7 Kc7 57. g4 Kd7 58. g5 Ke7 59. Ra6 Rh1 60. Re1! and white won shortly.


Amazingly after I resigned I learned that I had won the tournament on tie-break (because in round 1 I defeated one of the co-winners).  Never before has this happened to me.

Wow.  Even so, it was a bitter pill to lose this game considering the opening!


I found a PDF file documenting prior Arizona State Championships. I don’t know who the author of that document is (the person that contributed the updates up to 2009). Curiously they omitted Angelina Belapovskaia who tied with me in 2004, I believe.   That tournament was played in Mesa, Arizona at one of Danny Rensch’s chess-house sites.    I was surprised to see I had tied for first apparently three times before (I thought it was twice before).  So now, apparently, I have tied for first four times!

In other personal State Championship historical news, in 1982, I won the Maryland version by defeating Richard Delaune in the last round.   This was actually a really good game that you can find on  In 1989, I tried to win the NY State in Albany NY (defeating IM Shirazi in a nice game that featured a highly unusual queen sac) but I believe some Grandmaster luminary took top honors that year.  All I can remember about Albany 1989 is visiting a jazz club where Grandmaster Larry C drummed on the table to express solidarity with the musicians.  I haven’t been that active, clearly, in trying to win state honors here and there.  I lived in New Jersey for a while but never tried that one.

Timeline Photos


Baby Mark in 1960 had not yet conceived of “state championships”.

Manhattan Chess Club, 1988

I won the Manhattan CC Championship (a now defunct club, located at the glamorous Carnegie Hall, 57th and 7th, NYC) twice in 1988 and 1990.  Sandwiched between these was my unsuccessful run at the NY State Championship in Albany 1989.

The Fabulous 00s: The 2009 North American Open

December 30, 2009

Vegas and Chess, Makes Sense

A true American classic – this year’s edition of the Bill Goichberg North American Open (at Bally’s Hotel, Las Vegas) was very hard fought in all seven rounds.

The abridged standings (click here for the complete standings as reported by the CCA):

1 GM Varuzhan Akobian 2690 CA W48 W27 W41 D5 W12 D3 D4
2 GM Alexander Shabalov 2669 PA W69 W29 D18 L12 W62 W19 W15
3 GM Victor Mikhalevski 2666 ISR W92 D42 W31 W18 D15 D1 W16
4 GM Joshua Ed Friedel 2609 NH L23 W25 W76 W32 W21 W11 D1
5 GM Alex Yermolinsky 2583 SD W37 W45 W49 D1 D11 D12 W14
6 GM Sundarajan Kidambi 2616 IND W59 W43 L12 W29 D13 D18 W27 5
7 GM Dmitry Gurevich 2526 IL W79 W35 D13 D19 D41 W42 D12 5
8 IM Lev Milman 2510 NY W78 D31 D32 D34 W53 W22 D9 5
9 IM Mark Ginsburg 2427 AZ W38 D33 H— W47 D44 W28 D8 5
10 FM Kazim Gulamali 2418 GA W80 W36 D44 L13 W31 D34 W30 5
11 FM Steven C Zierk 2387 CA W25 D23 W33 W17 D5 L4 W34 5
12 FM Daniel Naroditsky 2375 CA W62 W94 W6 W2 L1 D5 D7 5
13 David Alan Zimbeck 2293 CA W53 W90 D7 W10 D6 D15 D18 5
14 Siddharth Ravichandran 2489 NY L49 W93 W78 W43 D22 W40 L5
15 GM Mesgen Amanov 2448 IL W24 D32 W58 W28 D3 D13 L2
16 FM Alexander Kretchetov 2444 CA D60 W51 D47 W45 D42 W41 L3
17 FM Charles R Riordan 2411 MA W50 D47 X23 L11 L34 W55 W46
18 FM Michael Lee 2399 WA W61 W34 D2 L3 W36 D6 D13
19 IM Emory A Tate 2375 CA D70 W64 W56 D7 D40 L2 W39
20 FM Darwin Yang 2370 TX L63 L62 W99 W94 W49 W44 D23
21 GM Anatoly Y Lein 2355 OH W71 D66 H— W49 L4 D24 W48
22 Alex Cherniack 2280 MA H— W65 D52 W60 D14 L8 W45
23 FM William J Schill 2203 WA W4 D11 F17 D77 W66 W68 D20
24 Ryan J Moon 2188 GA L15 W84 W26 L41 W57 D21 W42
25 Christopher Heung 2168 FL L11 L4 W84 W87 W43 D45 W44

Here are my games.  I took a bye in the 3rd round to drink and gamble, making my effort a 6-rounder.

Round 1.

M. Ginsburg – S. Higgins (attended some Robby Adamson camps)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 Nc6 3. d4 e6 4. a3 d6?! 5. Nc3 g6 6. d5! This move gives an edge in all lines. As black, I like to try the Tango a little differently:  in ICC blitz 4…g6!? 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. e4 d5!? is recommended with crazy Gruenfeld-like complications.  I haven’t looked up if that particular try has been seen OTB.

6…Ne7 7. e4 e5 8. c5! Bg7 9. Bb5+ Nd7 9..Bd7 is quite playable.

10. b4 The computer is quick to point out the logical 10. cxd6 cxd6 11. O-O O-O 12. Be3 f5 13. Ng5 but the text move is all right.

10… O-O 11. O-O h6 12. Bb2 f5 13. Bc4 Kh8 14. Rc1 Nf6 15. exf5?! Cleaner is 15. Nd2! with the possible line 15…f4 16. Be2 g5 17. cxd6 cxd6 18. Nb5 Ne8 19. Bh5!! (a fantastic move to gain c7) 19…Nf6 20. h3 a6 21. Nc7 Rb8 22. Be2 and white is dominating; he can choose when to play Ne6 with crushing effect.  This is exactly what white wants – a route to e6.

15… g5?!

Puzzle. White to play...

16. Re1? Very weak.  The computer points out the elementary tactic 16. h4! g4
17. Ng5! hxg5 18. hxg5 Bxf5 19. gxf6 Bxf6 with a big edge to white.  For whatever reason, I played my move fast, never bothering to look for anything.  A sign of first-round laziness?  At least I was well ahead on time at this point.  I had some vague notions of Bishop back to f1 and clearing the c-file.

16… Bxf5 17. Bf1 17. h3!? Ng6 18. Qb3 Qd7 19. c6!? bxc6 20. dxc6 Qxc6! 21. Bd5 Qe8 22. Bxa8 Qxa8 and black has good compensation.

17… Bg4 18. Be2 Bf5 19. Qb3 Ne8? No reason for this retreat. 19… g4 20. Nd2 h5 is all right.

20. Nd2 Ng6 21. Bf1?! A continuation of a second-best idea.  The obvious reflex denying the f4 square, 21. g3! gives white a pleasant edge.

21… Nf4 22. Nde4 Qe7 23. Nd1 Nothing wrong with the solid 23. f3! — the game move somehow works out after a pair of knights comes off the board.

23… Nf6 24. Nxf6 Rxf6 25. Ne3 Bd7? Now white breaks through and should be winning.  But since both players are in time trouble, black more than white, crazy adventures await.

26. cxd6 cxd6 27. Rc7 Qd8 28. Rec1 b6 29. Qc2 Rf8 30. g3! After the game, I thought this move was terrible giving black all kinds of chances, but it’s actually correct and the fastest win.

A more practical move is 30. Qe4 with domination.  Black can barely move.

30… Nh3+ 31. Bxh3 Bxh3 32. Qg6? A huge lemon.  Consistent is 32. g4! locking out the bishop on h3.   32. g4! Qf6 (note that 32… Rf4 is met by an unusually nice combination: 33. Qg6 Qf6 34. Rc8+ Rxc8 35. Rxc8+ Bf8 36. Qxf6+ Rxf6

Position after 36...Rxf6 (analysis)

37. Bxe5!! {Wow!} dxe5 38. d6 Rxd6 39. Rxf8+ Kh7 40. Rf3 and wins the errant bishop!

Returning to 32. g4 Qf6, 33. Nf5 Rg8 34. f3 h5 35. Qe4 and white has things under control and wins.

32… Qf6 My preliminary calculation had 32…Rg8 33. Qh5 “with the dual threat of Qxh3 and Rxh6 mating” — but the rook on c7 really cannot jump to h6 like that.  Also I hadn’t even noticed the game defense.

33. Qxf6 Rxf6 34. g4 Late, but still good.  Not as good, though.

34…Raf8 35. Nf5 Rg6?! A better try is 35… h5! 36. Rxg7 (The optically “nice” 36. R1c2 is insufficient due to a fantastic resource:  36… Bxg4 37. f4 (37. Nxd6 Kxg7 38. Bxe5 Kg6 39. Bxf6 Kxf6 40. Ne4+ Kf5 41. Nd2 Ke5 42. Rc7 Rc8! is equal) 37…Rxf5 38. Rcc7 Rc8!! {Wow!} 39. Rh7+ Kg8 40. Rcg7+ Kf8 41. Rd7 Kg8 and draw!

36. f3?! Another miscue.  The players have no time. Correct is the difficult 36. R1c6!! Bxg4 37. Nxd6 Bf3 (37… Kg8 38. Rxa7 Rf4 39. Rcc7 Bf8 40. Nc4 Bh3 41. Ne3 Re4 42. Rc6 and wins) 38. Nf7+ Kh7 39. Nxe5 Rxc6 40. Nxc6 Rg8 41. Bxg7 Rxg7 42. Ne7 and wins.  This is the kind of line that needs a little time to see.

36… h5! Very confusing.

37. Nxd6? White has become totally confused.  He should play 37. gxh5! Rgf6 38. Rxg7! forced — (38. Nxg7??  Rxf3  wins for black: 39. Nf5 R3xf5 40. Rc8 Rxc8 41. Rxc8+ Kh7 42. Rc1 Kh6 and wins) 38…Rxf5  (if 38…Bxf5 39. Rxa7 and white should win) 39. Rcc7! R8f6 {Forced.  But now comes an amazing combination:

40. Rh7+ Kg8 41. Rcg7+ Kf8 42. h6 Rf7 A good tactics puzzle now.  White to play and win.

Note in passing 42… Rxh6 43. Rxh6 Rxf3 44. Rxh3 Rxh3 45. Rxa7 and white wins.

White to play and win. Position after 42...Rf7 (analysis)

43. Bxe5!! {A great shot.} dxe5 (43… Rxf3 44. Rxf7+ Rxf7 45. Rxf7+ Kxf7 46. h7 wins) 44. d6 Rxf3 (44… Rxg7 45. hxg7+ Kg8 (45… Kf7 46. d7) 46. d7 A quite unusual combination hanging the rook and having black’s pieces blocked from the promotion by interference! 46…Kxh7 47. d8=Q Kxg7 48. Qd7+ Kg6 49. Qxa7 Rxf3 50. Qxb6+ Kf5 51. Qa6 and wins) 45. Rh8 mate!)

37… hxg4? Black only had seconds left. 37… Rxd6 38. Rxg7 Kxg7 39. Bxe5+ Rdf6 (or 39… Rff6 40. gxh5 Kf7 41. Bxd6 Rxd6 42. Rc7+ and white might draw) 40. gxh5 Kf7 41. Rc7+ Ke8 42. Bxf6 Rxf6 43. Kf2 with chances to draw.  That would be embarrassing indeed but at least white is not totally lost.

38. Nf7+ Kg8 39. Nxe5 Rgf6

Position after 39...Rgf6

40. Rxg7+! Nasty.  At least I saw this one on the last move of the time control. White wins now.

40…Kxg7 41. Nd7 The black bishop “sight” to d7 was blocked by the pawn on g4.

41…gxf3 42. Nxf6 Kg6 43. Kf2 1-0

It was very strange how the two behind the scenes combinations that occurred in the analysis both involved the star move Bxe5!!.

Stay tuned, I will post Rounds 2, 4, 5, and 7.

Round 2

FM E. Yanayt – M. Ginsburg

To prepare for my half-point bye in round 3, I had this virtually unplayed game in Round 2.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Bb4+ The best winning attempt here is 3…c5.

4. Bd2 Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 d5 6. Nf3 Qe7 7. Bg2 O-O Somehow 7…Ne4 and then the Qe7-b4+  follow-up didn’t look very impressive.

8. O-O Rd8!

I have seen this line a lot (I was always white) in ICC blitz versus eastern-bloc GM’s.  It’s a very solid system.

9. Qc2 c5 10. cxd5 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Na6!? Seems good, with the idea to pop into b4.  The game is about even.

1/2 – 1/2

Round 3

During my bye-round, the following reversal of fortune occurred.

D. Naroditsky – GM S. Kidambi (2616)

Black may have been hexed in this game due to the fact I have never heard of him although he has a high rating.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Nxf6 Nxf6 7.Bc4 Bf5 8.O-O e6 9.c3 Bd6 10.Qe2 Qc7 11.h3 O-O 12.Nh4 c5 13.Nxf5 exf5 14.Bd3 g6 15.Bg5 Rfe8 16.Qd2 Ne4 17.Bxe4 fxe4 18.dxc5 Bxc5 19.Rad1 Re6 20.Be3 Rd6 21.Qe2 Bxe3 22.fxe3 Rad8 23.Rd4 Rxd4 24.cxd4 f5 25.Qd2 Rc8 26.Qb4 b6 27.Qb3 Kg7 28.Qe6 Rf8 29.Kh1 Rf6 30.Qe8 Rc6 31.d5 Rc2 32.Rd1 Qg3

This obvious move places white into an unbreakable zugzwang and it is hard to fathom that black did not win, much less lost.

33.Qe7 Kh6 34.Qf8 Kh5 35.Rg1 Rd2 36.Qf7 h6 37.b4

Black to play and avoid winning

Black is completely winning.  But, I am guessing he had not much time left.  Even so, what follows is a complete botchery.

37…Rxa2? Why? 37…a5 preserves the zugzwang situation.   The even simpler solution 37…Qxe3 was also completely winning.  White cannot make any threats.

38.d6 Rd2 39.d7 Qd6? Time-trouble? It was safe to play 39…Qxe3 and black should win.

40.Rf1? Maybe mutual time-trouble. 40. Qg7 was equal.  The text aims for a cheapo but should lose.

40…Qxd7?? OK probably time-trouble.  I was drinking and gambling at the Bellaggio and didn’t witness this debacle. 40…Kg5! eliminates all cheapoes and wins easily.

41.Rxf5+ Oops.  White wins.  Black must have felt sick, given he had iron-clad zugzwang a few moves ago.

41…Qxf5 42.g4+ How embarrassing.  Black totters on a few moves.

42…Kh4 43.gxf5 Kxh3 44.Qxg6 Rd1 45.Qg1 Rxg1 46.Kxg1 a5 47.bxa5 bxa5 48.f6 1-0

Round 4

M. Ginsburg – H. Liou  Dutch NIC SOS Special

1. d4 f5 2. Qd3 I saw this in a New in Chess “SOS” supplement; the game in question occurred in the “B” section of the German Bundesliga.

2…d6 As the NIC states, Leningrad players are reluctant to play the strongest move in the position, 2….d5.   Now, white gains enormous white square pressure with the game sequence.

3. g4 fxg4 4. h3 Nf6 5. hxg4 Bxg4 6. Bg5! Be6 This unhealthy retreat signals black already has problems.  White was threatening the crude Bxf6 and Qe4.

7. Nc3 c6 8. Bxf6 gxf6 I would prefer 8…exf6 to try to keep white’s plus to manageable proportions.

9. Rxh7 Rxh7 10. Qxh7 Qa5 11. Bh3 Bf7 12. O-O-O Na6 13. d5! This move cutoffs black’s queen from the kingside for the time being.

13…cxd5 14. Nf3 d4  15. Nxd4 Qh5 16. Qd3 Nb4 17. Qb5+ The smoke clears and white is left with a huge advantage due to light square control.  How many Dutch games have been lost due to black not being able to observe the squares he weakened on move 1?  I recommend readers get the tournament book San Antonio 1972 and read Petrosian’s comments to Petrosian-Larsen.

17…Qxb5 18. Ncxb5 Kd8 19. Ne6+ Bxe6 20. Bxe6 Black is now totally paralyzed.

20…a6 21. Nc3 Bh6+? Making matters worse, but it was very bad anyway.  The ill-fated bishop gets trapped shortly.

22. e3 Kc7 23. a3 Nc6 24. Nd5+ Kb8 25. Nb6 A complete rout. I would resign as black now.

25…Ra7 26. Rh1 Nd8 27. Bb3 Bg5 28. f4 Kc7 29. fxg5 fxg5 30. Rh8 e6 31. Nc4 d5 32. Rh7+ Kc6 33. Ne5+ Kd6 34. Nf7+ Nxf7 35. Rxf7 Ke5 36. Kd2 Ra8 37. Rg7 Kf6 38. Rxb7 g4 39. Ke2 Kg5 40. e4 Rd8 41. exd5 exd5 42. Ke3 Re8+ 43. Kd4 g3 44. Bxd5 Kf6 45. Rb3 1-0

Round 5

I could not overcome the solid Hungarian I. Somogyi!

I. Somogyi – M. Ginsburg  King’s Indian g3 line

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. Nf3 c6
7. O-O Bf5
As successfully played in Schroer-Benjamin, USCL 2009.  White in my game plays more strongly.

8. Nh4! Be6 9. d5! Bd7 10. e4 Na6 11. h3 cxd5 12. cxd5 Nc5 13. Be3 Qa5
14. Rb1 Na4!
Keeping the balance.

15. Nxa4 Bxa4 16. b3 Bb5 17. Re1 Qa3 18. Qd2 Rac8 19. Bd4 Nd7 20.
Bxg7 Kxg7 21. Nf3 Ne5!
Still equal.

22. Nxe5

Black survives the dangerous attempt 22. Nd4!? Ba6 23. Qg5!? Rce8! (23…Rc7 is all right is black is careful: 24. Nf5+ Kh8 25. Nxe7 f6 26. Qh6 Rf7? 27. Rbc1! wins nicely – I saw that during the game; but 26…Re8 holds) 26…24. Nf5+ Kh8 25. Nxe7 f6 26. Qh6 Rf7 27. f4 Rfxe7 28. fxe5 fxe5)

22… dxe5 23. Rbc1 f6 24. h4 Bd7 25. Kh2 Qd6 26. Rxc8 Rxc8 27. Rc1 e6? Careless.  Correct is 27… Rxc1! 28. Qxc1 e6 =

28. Rxc8 Bxc8 29. Qc3? 29. Bh3! sets a great trap.  If 29…Bd7? (correct is 29… b6! 30. Qd3 Qc5 31. Kg2 exd5 32. Bxc8 Qxc8 33. exd5 Kf7 34. h5 =) 30. Qa5! and black has big problems.  If 30… exd5? (30… Qb6 31. Qxb6 axb6 32. dxe6 Bc6 33. f3 Kf8 34. Kg1 Ke7 35. Kf2 is very good for white as black cannot round up the e6 pawn) 31. Qd8 suddenly wins!

29… Bd7 30. dxe6 Bxe6 31. Bh3 Bf7 32. Bf1 Be6 33. Bh3 1/2-1/2

Round 6

Interestingly, in othe Round 6 action, Friedel played what appeared to many to be a ludicrous variation of the 2 Knights – but it worked and his opponent, NM Zierk, blundered and lost.  I have posted elsewhere on this opening (2 Knights “Ulvestad”); it looks very bad for black and I think its days are numbered.

M. Ginsburg – FM J. Dean          Main line Tarrasch Defense

1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Nf6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O c5 6. cxd5 exd5 7. d4 Nc6 8. Nc3 O-O 9. Bg5 cxd4 10. Nxd4 h6 11. Be3 Re8 12. Qb3!

GM Portisch Special

GM Lajos Portisch’s excellent treatment, I believe covered in one of Kasparov’s My Great Predecessors volumes.  When the Queen is chased by the knight, the knight winds up not having a happy home.  Similarly, if the black knight on f6 chases the B/e3, it also does not have a happy home after the bishop moves away.

12…Na5 13. Qc2 Nc4 14. Bf4 White looks better here.  The Black knight on c4 is very unstable and that is one of the my points of 12. Qb3.

14…Be6 15. Rad1 Qc8 Black has problems.  The most normal move, 15… Rc8 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Qg6 Kh8 18. b3! Nd6 19. Be5 leaves white with a simple plus.

16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. e4? A big lemon! It’s always right to kick the advanced knight with 17. b3! (obvious) 17… Nd6 18. Rc1 Rf8 19. Qd3 Qe8 20. Rfd1 Rc8 21. e4 Ndxe4 22. Nxe4 dxe4 23. Bxe4 and white is much better.

17… e5! This move completely escaped my attention.  White is still better, but not as much.
18. Bc1 d4 19. Nd5 Nd6 20. Qd3? Another significant inaccuracy.  20. Qb3!   Nc4 and only NOW 21. Qd3 leaves white with a plus.

20… Nxd5 21. exd5 Bf6! I totally bothced it. Black is fine.  The center pawns are mobile.  Black’s only problem is a severe lack of time.

22. Qg6? Practically speaking with black having less time, white should play 22. Rfe1 Qd7 23. Bd2 Rac8  but of course Black is all right.

22… Qf5! 23. Qxf5 Nxf5 24. Be4 Nd6 25. Bg6 Re7 26. Rfe1 e4?? Any reasonable queen rook move is equal.  Unfortunately, black was in severe time trouble already. This move loses a pawn and the game.

27. Bf4 Be5 27…Rd8 28. Bxd6 loses for black in the long run.  Although there are bishops of opposite colors, too much material remains.  It’s similar to Yermolinsky-Naroditsky North American Open 2009 except there white fell into a last-ditch stalemate trick and Naroditsky saved it!

28. Bxe5 Rxe5 29. Rxd4 Rd8 30. Bxe4 Nxe4 31. Rexe4 Black has no chances in the single rook ending.

31…Rxe4 32. Rxe4 Rxd5 33. Re7 Rb5 34. b3 a5 35. Kg2 a4 36. bxa4 Rb4 37. a5 Rb5 38. Re8+ Kh7 39. Ra8 Rb2 40. a6 Black resigned.


The move 40. a4! also wins: 40…Ra2 41. a6 b6 42. Rb8 Rxa4 43. Rxb6 and wins.

In the game, black can try a last-gasp 40… b5! move.  Suggested by Siddharth Ravichandran (rating=2489) after the game as drawing – and indeed this is a great try!

40...b5! - Suggested by kibitzer Ravichandran

There is only a study-like refutation: 41. a4!! – only after he suggested 40…b5 (which I did not see in the game) did I notice this move which is a nice interference theme, and white wins.

Position after 41. a4!! - nice interference theme. (analysis)

Also in Round 6, this amusing error-fest:

Zierk – Friedel   2 Knights, Refuted Silly Ulvestad Line

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 I would pay more attention to Karpov’s legendary logic here and try 3…Bc5.

4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 b5(?) Very illogical!  Good in the 1800s, maybe.

6.Bf1 h6 (might as well, 6…Nd4 leads to a bad game too)  7.Nf3?

I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but the fairly obvious 7. Nxf7! results in a big edge for white. This was shown in other examples recently.  At least black is not playing the refuted mainline with 6…Nd4.

7…Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qe6 9.Bxb5 Bb7 10.O-O O-O-O 11.Re1 Bc5 12.Qe2 Nd4 13.Nxd4 Bxd4 14.Nd1 Nd5 15.Bc4 Qg6 16.Bxd5 Bxd5 17.Ne3 Bxe3 18.fxe3 Qxc2 19.d4 Qe4 20.b3 Rhe8 21.Bb2 Re6 22.Qd2 Bb7 23.Rac1 Rdd6 24.Rf1 Rf6 25.Rfe1 Rc6 26.dxe5 Rxc1 27.Bxc1 Rg6 28.Re2 Rc6 29.e6 Rxe6 30.Qc2 Rc6 31.Qb2 Qd3 32.Rf2 Ba6 33.Bd2 Rc2 34.Qd4 Rxd2 0-1

Round 7

Lev Milman – M. Ginsburg  Sicilian Scheveningen

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. Be2 Be7 7. Be3 O-O 8.
O-O Nc6 9. f4 Bd7
A rare sideline.

10. Qe1 Conventional thinking has 10. Nb3, avoiding exchanges, as white’s best bet.

10…Nxd4 11. Bxd4 Bc6 12. Qg3 g6 13. Qe3 Qa5 Black is threatening  is all right.

14. e5 dxe5 15. fxe5 Nd5 16. Nxd5 Qxd5 17. Bf3 Qc4? 17… Qb5 is more accurate. 18. a4 Qb4 19. Bxc6 bxc6 20. b3 c5 21. Bc3 Qb7 and black has equal chances.

18. b3 Qa6 19. c4 Qa3 20. Kh1 Kg7 21. Rf2 21. Bxc6 bxc6 22. Qe4! places black in a passive situation.

21… h6 Here, best was 21… a5! with equal chances.

22. Bxc6 bxc6 23. Raf1 Rad8? With a draw offer.  But this move is a blunder.

24. g3? A blunder in return.   Surprisingly, white can take.  24. Bxa7! c5 25. Bb6 Rd7 and now the amazing resource 26. Rf3 Rb7 27. Qf2!! and wins.  The f7-point collapses.

24… Bg5 25. Qe4 h5 26. Bc3?! White can preserve something with 26. Rf3 Rd7 (26… Qxa2?? 27. Bc5! winning) 27. Bg1)

26… Qc5 27. b4 Qe3! Judging from white’s reaction, he might have missed this.

28. Qxe3 Bxe3 29. Rf3 Bd4 30. b5! With a draw offer.

When I made my 29th move, I thought black was much better because of the white weak pawns.  However, white’s 30th generates plenty of activity and it’s in fact equal!

For example, 30…Bxc3 (30… cxb5 31. cxb5 Rd5 32. Bb4!) 31. Rxc3 cxb5 (31… Rc8 32. a4) 32. cxb5 Rd5 33. a4 Rd4 34. Rf4! =.

1/2 – 1/2

Tournament Postscript – The Cheater’s Clock Gambit

For completeness, here is amusing cheating I heard about in the skittles room.  In a lower section, someone had 28 minutes left versus 28 seconds left in sudden death in a complicated position.  The person with 28 seconds left simply pressed the clock without making a move.  Rattled, the person with 28 minutes left upon returning to the board assumed the guy with 28 seconds left had made some kind of move and made a move in return.  The guy with 28 seconds left then called the TD and said “I get 2 more minutes on my clock because he made 2 moves in a row.”  In the absence of witnesses, the TD upheld this ludicrous “gambit”.  The guy with 28 seconds left got 2 more minutes on his clock and that was enough for him to win the game.  This kind of stuff can only happen in American Swisses.  Why is that?   Well, that’s not strictly true.  After all,  a many time US Champion did exactly the same thing in a US Championship round-robin invitational. But we won’t get into that.

The Fabulous 00s: USCL Week 8

October 20, 2009

Scorpions Sting Again; ICC Kibitzers Hopelessly Confused

Well, the Scorpions did it again!  They squeaked by the Chicago Blaze 2.5 – 1.5

Let’s see a very important ending on board 3 where Mehmed Pasalic (CHI) was battling Danny Rensch. A very dramatic battle with several key, instructive moments.

Pasalic (CHI) – Rensch (ARZ)  Sicilian Najdorf

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.f4 e5 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 b5 9.0-0 Bb7 10.Qe2 Be7 11.Kh1 g6?! I don’t understand this move. I would just cackle. I can do …g6 later, usually as a reaction to white’s probe Nf3-h4 move.

12.fxe5 dxe5 13.Bh6 Ng4 14.Bd2 Nc5 15.Rad1?! After something like 15. h3 h5 16. a3, black’s knight is just hanging in limbo on g4 and white is better.

15…Nxd3 16.cxd3 b4 17.Nb1 h5 18.Be1 Qb6 19.Bf2 Nxf2+ 20.Rxf2 Qe6 21.Nbd2 0-0 22.Nc4 f6 Black’s kingside pawns look funny but white doesn’t have the right pieces on the board to exploit it.

23.Qe3 Kg7 24.Rc2 Rfc8 25.h3 a5 26.b3 a4 27.Qe1 Rd8 28.Re2 Ba6 29.Rc2 Bxc4 More foxy is 29…axb3 30. axb3 Rac8 and black can decide when or if to play Bxc4.

30.dxc4 axb3 31.axb3 Rxd1 32.Qxd1 f5 33.Re2 Rd8 34.Qe1 Bf6? 34…f4 kept the balance.

35.Qxb4 Rd3 36.Qb8! This is strong and black might have underestimated it.

36…fxe4 37.Qb7+ Kh6 38.Qxe4

White has control

White has control

After an up and down game, white is starting to assert himself.   It is starting to get really interesting, and this is when I started watching. It didn’t look good.

This is a good moment to pause due to a tactical nuance.

Here ICC kibitzers initially were calling for black to take on b3:  38…Rxb3.  Another kibitzer pointed out that this was not playable due to “38…Rxb3 39. Nd4!” so we thought it was unplayable. But go a little deeper!    39. Nd4 Rxh3+!! (a fantastic resource!) 40. Kg1 (40. gxh3? Qxh3+ and black is not worse at all) 40…Qb6! and black is only a little worse!


Both sides were running low on time.  Here white missed two clean wins.

The easiest, as pointed out by IM D. Fernandez, was 39. Rd2!!  Rxd2 40. Qe3+ Kg7 41. Nxd2 and white is completely winning, maintaining the e4 blockade.

The second choice, and very popular in ICC kibitzing (but inferior to Fernandez’s move but it’s harder to work out), was the more complicated 39. b4. After 39…Rd1+ 40. Re1 Rxe1+ 41. Qxe1 e4 it’s time for another interesting quiz.   What’s best here?  Answer to be posted later.

White to Play. Quiz Time (analysis)

White to Play. Quiz Time (analysis)

Position after 41….e4; White to play and win (analysis).  Can you solve it?

39.Nxe5?! White bypasses both of those wins, but as we shall see, this should have been winning too.

39…Bxe5 40.Qxe5 Qxe5 41.Rxe5 Rxb3

Yermolinsky Sets Us Straight

Most ICC kibitzers felt this was totally drawn.  Only GM Yermolinsky was wise enough to enlighten us – see comment to white’s 43rd move.

42.h4! The correct first step to fix the g6 pawn.


Moment of Truth

Moment of Truth


Only GM Yermolinsky recognized this as a blunder.  He laid out a winning plan that is foolproof and brilliant in its simplicity.  In hindsight obvious, but he is the only one that saw it among the gawking multitudes.  Put pawn on c5, he said, and prepare then put pawn on g3, and Rook on g5 holding everything, and move king to queenside.  Indeed, that pins black’s king to g6, and black is helpless against the white king shepherding the c-pawn.  A fantastic, simple in hindsight, and very aesthetic plan!  Black is completely powerless to stop its realization.

Clearly Pasalic missed it, but so did most of the ICC kibitzers.

43…Rc2 44.Rc7 Rd2 45.Kh2 Rd4! By bothering white’s kingside pawns, the black rook “latches on” and prevents any further progress. The Scorpions win the match by the narrow 2.5 – 1.5 margin!

46.g3 Rd3 47.c5 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 Rc2 49.Rc8 Kg7 50.Rc6 Kf7 51.Kf1 Kg7 52.Rc8 Kf6 53.c6 Kf5 54.c7 Kg4 55.Rg8 Rxc7 56.Rxg6+ Kf3 57.Kg1 Rc2 58.Rb6 Kxg3 59.Rb3+ Kxh4 60.Rb4+ Kg3 61.Rb3+ Kg4 62.Rb4+ Kg3 63.Rb3+ Kg4 64.Rb4+ Kg3 Game drawn by repetition 1/2-1/2

Wow!  A great fighting, titantic battle in the best USCL tradition!

Last year, I, too, held a draw in a bad game vs Pasalic to win a CHI-ARZ match.  Chicago must be getting tired of us!

What Else is New?

I’m involved in a fierce smutty movie debate with a female chess player on Facebook. Fear not, gentle reader — our debate is not smutty – only the movie is.

The Fabulous 00s: Some Chess Theory from the Tulsa US Championship Qualifier

April 18, 2008

The March 2008 Tulsa, Oklahoma US Championship Qualifier had some interesting games from the perspective of chess theory. Let’s see some of these perpetual time pressure games (G/90 + 30 sec increment). Endings suffered, and opening familiarity rose to the foreground. See this background post for some Tulsa “glamor shots.”

GM Alex Yermolinksy – NM Movses Movsisyan, Round 2. Gruenfeld Defense.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 cxd4 Here, 8…Qa5 and 8…O-O are the most popular. Strangely, black plays a burst of natural but rare moves and emerges with a good game!

9.cxd4 Bg4 9…Qa5+ 10. Qd2 Qxd2+ was a quick draw in Groszpeter-Farago, Bibinje 2006, but white has a small edge after 11. Kxd2 Nc6 12. Rb1 (12. Rc1 was played).

10.Be2 Nc6 11.d5 (What else?) 11…Ne5 12.Nxe5 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Bxe5

Position after 13…Bxe5.

14.Rd1?! Previously, the lame 14. Qb5+? Qd7 led nowhere in Gorshkov-Zilberstein, Sverdlovsk 1979, and drawn in 30 moves. However, 14. Rc1! looks more useful than the artificial text move. After all, 14. Rc1! Qa5+ 15. Qd2 Qxd2+ 16. Kxd2 with f2-f4 coming is a solid ending edge for white.

14…Qa5+ 15.Bd2 Qa4! With simple moves, black has achieved a good game against the experienced grandmaster. Note that Yermo provided several good wins of his vs. the Gruenfeld in his book “The Road to Chess Improvement.” This indicates that black’s particular Gruenfeld choice in this game warrants further study. Well, maybe not, since white did have the stronger 14. Rc1! in the game.

16.Bh6 Qb4+ After 16…Rc8 17. O-O Rc2, black has full equality. For example, 18. Qd3 Rxa2 19. Rc1 Ra3 20. Qe2 Ra2 21. Qf3 Ra3 is a perpetual attack on the queen and draw.

17.Kf1 Rc8 18.g3 Rc4 19.Re1 Bc3 19…Qa4! eyeing c2 is strong. Then, 20. Kg2 f6 makes an escape hatch for black’s king and once again he is happy.

20.Rc1 Rxe4?? Black ruins everything with a dreadful tactical oversight. 20…b5 was fine. For example, 21. f3 Be5 22. Kf2 Kd7! with equality.

21.Qc2 Rc4 22.Bg7! Oops. Undoubtedly overlooked by black. The rest of the game is technique.

22…Bxg7 23.Qxc4 Qxc4 24.Rxc4 Kd7 25.f4 b5 26.Rc6 Rb8 27.Ke2 b4 28.Ra6 Rb7 29.Rb1 Bc3 30.Kd3 Rc7 31.Rc1 Rc5 32.Rxa7+ Kd6 33.Ke2 33. a3 is a simple win. 33…Rxd5+ 34. Kc4! Rd4+ 35. Kb3 Rd3 36. axb4! Bd4+ 37. Kc4! does the trick. The text is fine too. White will win this.

33…Rxd5 34.Rd1 Rxd1 35.Kxd1 Bd4 36.Rb7 Bc5 37.Ke2 Kc6 38.Rb8 Kd5 39.Kd3 e5 40.fxe5 Kxe5 41.Rb7 Ke6 42.g4 Bd6 43.h3 h6 44.Ke4 f5+ 45.gxf5 gxf5+ 46.Kf3 Be7 47.Rb8 Kf6 48.Rg8 Bd6 49.h4! Iron-clad. 49…Kf7 50.Rg2 Be7 51.h5 Bg5 52.Rc2 Ke6 53.Rc6 Kd5 54.Rb6 Kc5 55.Rg6 Bd2 56.Ke2 Bc1 57.Rf6 Kb5 58.Rxf5 Ka4 59.Kd3 Bb2 60.Kc4 Bc3 61.Rd5 Ka3 62.Rd6 Kxa2 63.Rxh6 Bd2 64.Rd6 Bc3 65.h6 Kb2 66.h7 Kc2 67.Rh6 Bh8 68.Kxb4 Kd3 69.Re6 1-0

IM Blas Lugo – GM Jesse Kraai Round 4, French Exchange

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4!? 5.Nxe4 Be7
A favorite treatment of GM Evgeny Bareev. This is not as quiet as it appears since the kings wind up on opposite sides often. It has the advantage of avoiding many long mainline theory variations.

6.Bxf6 Bxf6 7.Nf3 Nd7

Position after 7….Nd7. Decision Time.

8.Qd2 Maybe it’s just me, but I think a planned Bishop placement on d3 warrants a queen on e2 more than a queen on d2. For example, 8. Bd3 O-O 9. Qe2 c5!? 10. O-O-O cxd4 11. h4!? with ultra sharp play (eventually drawn) in Sutovsky-Ivanchuk, Moscow 2002. Both this plan and the text have been seen in dozens of games, of course.

8…O-O 9.O-O-O Be7 10.Bd3 b6 11.Kb1 The primitive 11. h4 turned out to be too slow in Suetin-Bareev, Hastings 1991, and black won after 11…Bb7 12 Kb1 Nf6. To give a counter-example, White won after 11. h4 Bb7 12. c3!? Nf6 13. Neg5 Bxf3 14. gxf3, but this position is equal after 14…Qd5. Black played 14…Kh8?! and lost in Topalov-Dreev, Linares 1995. The text move, on the other hand, also doesn’t promise much – only 3 draws in Chessbase’s BigBase. A more dangerous try is 11. Neg5!? which hopes for 11…h6? — after 11. Neg5 h6?, white scored +4 =0 -0 in ChessBase!

Position after 11. Neg5!? (Analysis). Black has to be careful.

But there’s a curiosity here: in Volokitin-P.H. Nielsen, Germany 2004, the game went 11. Neg5 h6 12. Bh7+ Kh8 13. Be4 which at first glance looks good for white. However, upon reflection doesn’t it look like black missed 13…hxg5 14. Bxa8 g4! and the threat of Be7-g5 wins material? We will come back to this. In the game, black played 13…Bxg5 14. Nxg5 Rb8 and lost. However, he was doing OK after 15. Nf3 Nf6 16. Bc6 Qd6 17. Ne5 Ng4! 18. Nxg4 Qc6 – he only lost due to later middlegame miscues. The truth about 13…hxg5? is revealed in another example, J. Polgar – F. Berkes, Budapest 2003, white introduced an incredible gambit: 12. Bh7+ Kh8 13. Be4 hxg5? 14. g4!! (not the greedy 14. Bxa8?) and now black faces complex problems. White stops black from playing g5-g4 and prepares to open the h-file. In the game, black lost after 14…Rb8 15. h4 g6 16. hxg5+ Kg7 17. Qf4 and white crashed through. The question is, can black live after 14. g4? Let’s take a look. First of all, 14….Ba6 15. h4! gxh4 16. g5! is crushing. For example, 16…Kg8 17. Rxh4 f5 (What else?) 18. Bc6 Rc8 19. Rdh1 Kf7 20. d5! and wins. Let’s go back to Berkes’s choice, 14…Rb8. 15. h4 and first we see that 15…gxh4? is bad: 16. g5 g6 17. Rxh4+ Kg7 18. Rdh1 Rg8 19. Rh7+ Kf8 20. Qf4! and wins.

So we go to Berkes choice, 15…g6 16. hxg5+ Kg7 17. Qf4. This is critical. We first notice that 17…Ba6 is crushed by a typical Judit Polgar brute-force tactic 18. Rh7+!! Kxh7 19. Qh2+ Kg8 20. Rh1 Bxg5+ 21. Nxg5 Qxg5+ 22. f4! and wins. We also notice that Berkes’s choice, 17…Bb7?, was crushed by the same tactic.

what about 17…Rh8!? – trying to defend on the h-file. There follows 18. Rxh8 Qxh8 (forced) 19. Ne5! and now black cannot take: 19…Nxe5? 20. Qxe5+ Kg8 21. Qxc7 Bxg5+ 22. Kb1 and the rook on b8 is trapped; white wins. And after 19…Qe8 20. Rh1! the lethal threat of 21. Nxf7! is introduced. Black still cannot take on e5 and hence is lost.

Going back to the beginning, 11. Neg5!? is best met by 11…Bxg5! and now 12. Qxg5 Qxg5+ 13. Nxg5 Nf6 is dead equal. Or, 12. Nxg5 Nf6 and black is OK and even won in B. Lopez-Kraai, San Diego 2004. That game continued 13. Qf4 Bb7 14. Rhe1 Qd6!? and here white disdained an equal ending after 15. Qxd6, opting for 15. Qh4 h6 16. Nf3 (16. Ne4! equal) Bxf3 17. gxf3 Nd5 18. Re4, eventually getting into trouble with the weak d4 pawn. White tried 13. h4!? in Sax-Dizdar, Celje 2003, and black reacted suspiciously with 13…c5?! 14. dxc5 Qd5 15. Kb1? Qxc5 equal. But white missed 15. Qf4!! Qxa2 16. Nxh7! Nxh7 17. Qe4 Nf6 18. Qxa8 Qa1+ 19. Kd2 Qxb2 20. Qxa7 and white keeps a small plus. Stronger is 13. h4 Bb7! and black is fine.

11…Bb7 12.Qf4 c5 In Sindik-Dizdar, Pula 1993, black introduced an idea similar to the game a little earlier: 12…Qb8!? 13. Qg3 c5! with good play. White can improve with 13. Ne5! c5 14. Bb5! Nf6 with sharp play after 15. Nxf6+ Bxf6 16. Rhe1 and now the Korchnoi pawn grab 16…Bxg2!?

13.dxc5 Qb8! Gambits in opposite-castled king positions are effective even in the ending! This is particularly true in the “perpetual time pressure” time control of G/90+30 sec. This motif, although it has been seen before, is ingenious and disconcerting for white. There is no more attack and white has to switch gears (notoriously difficult) to a defensive up-a-pawn but under pressure mode.

Position after 13….Qb8! – A gambit to reach an ending!

14.Qxb8 Raxb8 15.cxb6 Nxb6 16.b3? Correct is the solid but not particularly easy to find 16. Ned2! and then a defensive hunkering down. This would not create the glaring c3 weakness in the game. White would then have enough counter-chances.

16…Na4! Very unpleasant to meet in this time control. White probably overlooked this. The c3 square is now home for black’s knight.

17.Rde1 Bxe4 18.Bxe4 Nc3+ 19.Kb2 Bf6 This position is terrible for white.

20.Bd3 Ne4 21.Kb1 Nxf2 22.Rhf1 Nxd3 23.cxd3 Rfd8 24.Re3 a5 25.Ne5 Rd5? Correct is 25…Bxe5 26. Rxe5 a4! and black is on top. For example, 27. Kc2 axb3+ 28. axb3 Ra8 29. Kc3 Ra2 with a huge initiative.

26.Nc6 Rb7 27.Rg3 Kf8 28.Rf4! White is doing the right things now to get back in the game.

28...Be5 29.Nxe5 Rxe5 30.Rc4 f5 31.Rf3? 31. Kc1!

31…Ke7 31…Re2! is strong. 32.Rf2 Rd7 33.Kc2 Red5 34.Rf3 Kf6 35.Kc3 g5 36.d4? 36. h4! to reduce the number of pawns.

36…f4 37.a3 Kf5 Now black is gaining control again with his monstrously active king.

38.Rc5? White had to wait with 38. Rf2. The pseudo-active text is crushed.

38…g4 39.Rf1 e5! White probably underestimated this.

40.Rxd5 Rxd5 41.dxe5 Rxe5 42.Kd2 h5 43.b4 axb4 44.axb4 h4 45.Rb1 f3 46.gxf3 gxf3 47.b5 Kg4! The key move. White is lost.

48.b6 f2 49.b7 Re8 50.Rb4+ Kh3 51.Rb3 Kg2 52.b8Q Rxb8 53.Rxb8 f1Q 54.Re8 0-1

In more Round 4 action:

GM John Fedorowicz – FM Michael Langer Modern Benoni

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nf3 g6 7.Nd2 Nbd7 8.e4 Bg7 9.Be2 O-O 10.O-O Re8 11.a4 Ne5 12.Qc2 g5 13.Ra3 Fischer defeated the lame 13. Nf3?! Nxf3+ 14. Bxf3 h6 in Gligoric-Fischer, Palma de Mallorca 1970 Interzonal. White has equality here but Gligoric soon made a fatal tactical miscue. The text move is an idea of Petrosian’s; but will it “work” along the 3rd rank or get stuck?

Position after 13. Ra3. How useful will this rook be?

13…g4 14.Nd1 Ng6!? The very interesting 14…Nh5!? was seen in Antunac-Y. Gruenfeld, New York 1981, and black managed to win eventually. The game proceeded 15. Ne3 Nf4 16. Bd1 and black was very active. If 15. Re1 Nf4 16. Bf1 Neg6 and black is also OK and drew in 23 moves, Karolyi-Poloch, Leipzip 1984. The most active move, 15. f4!?, might be good for white but prior games misplayed both sides: 15…gxf3 16. Nxf3 Ng6?! 17. Ng5? (17. Bg5! with edge) and drawn eventually, Koualty-Renet Marseille 1988. Or 16…Nxf3+ 17. Bxf3 (17. Raxf3 is a white edge) 17…Be5?? 18. g3?? and white even lost in 40 moves, Nowak-Pokojowczyk Zielona Gora 1982. Black’s 17th move was complete bluff and white could win with the very nice 18. Bxh5 Qh4 19. Rg3+! (Ouch!) 19…Bxg3 20. Bxf7+ Kg7 21. hxg3 Qxe4 22. Bh6+!! Kxh6 23. Qc1+! Kg7 24. Qg5+ and now black must lose his queen with the sad 24…Qg6 – so it’s resignable.

Tentative Conclusion: 15. f4! is the best move after 14…Nh5!?

The natural move 14…Bd7!? is also very interesting. White gets in trouble after the lemon 15. Bb5? Bxb5 16. axb5 Qb6!. No edge for white is to be seen in this position. After the text move, black has enough counter-chances as well.


Position after 15. Ne3.

15…Qe7?! 15…Nf4! is a good choice. Witness the nifty defusing tactic: 16. Bb5 Bd7! 17. Bxd7 (apparently gaining the monster square f5 for the knight) 17…Ne2+!! 18. Kh1 Qxd7 19. Nf5 Nd4! with equality. A very nice defensive motif. There is also 16. Bc4 and here is a crazy repetition draw line: 16. Bc4 Bd7 17. f3!? gxf3 18. Rxf3 Bh6 19. Kh1 Bg5 20. Rg3 N6h5 21. Rf3 Nf6 22. Rg3. Unforced, but you get the idea. Putting the queen opposite the white rook (soon to arrive on e1) will have nasty consequences in the game.

16.Bb5 Rd8 17.a5 Not much is accomplished by 17. f4 gxf3 18. Rxf3 a6 19. Bd3 Ne5 with equality.

17…Nf4 17…a6 is possible. If 18. Ba4 Nf4 19. Re1 with a small white edge.

18.Re1 h5 19.Qd1 h4? Again, the careful 19….a6 is good to include. For example, 20. Bf1 Re8 and all is well. More dangerous is 20. Ba4! Rb8 21. Bc2! with a latent attack in the works. The impulsive text is an example of going overboard in a Modern Benoni. Just because the opening is an active choice does not mean every single move has to be maximally active even at the cost of weakening.

20.Nf5! The punishment. Black’s king is too weak now.

20…Bxf5 21.exf5 Qf8 22.Ne4 N4xd5 23.Bg5 Note that 23. a6! is crushing.

23…Nxe4 24.Rxe4 Nf6 25.Bxf6 25. Re1 with the idea of Bxh4 would win easily also.

25…Bxf6 26.Rxg4+ Kh7 27.Qd5 Black is paralyzed.

27…Qe7 28.Re3 Qc7 29.Rxh4+ 29. Qe4 with the idea of 30. Rxh4+ was total butchery. The text also wins quickly.

29…Bxh4 30.f6 Kg6 31.Re7? 31. Bd3+ is a fast forced mate. 31…Kxf6 32. Qf5+ Kg7 33. Qh7+ Kf6 34. Qh6 mate. Accuracy is often a victim at this crazy time control (or maybe white was playing on black’s clock). Of course, the text wins easily as well.

31…Qxe7 32.fxe7 Bxe7 33.Bc4 Rf8 34.Qe4 Kf6 35.Qh4 Ke5 36.Qxe7 Kd4 37.Bf1 1-0

Let’s move on to a real barn burner between two strong Grandmasters.

Round 5. GM Goldin – GM Yermolinsky Slav Defense

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Be4 7.f3 Bg6 8.Qb3 Qc7

Position after 8…Qc7. To 9. g4 or not to 9. g4.

9.Bd2 GM Vadim Milov, a connoisseur of opening theory, played 9. g4!? here and won after 9…Be7 10. g5!? Nfd7 (10…dxc4!) 11. Nxg6 hxg6 12. f4 f6? (12…dxc4!) 13. Bd2 with a big edge; Milov-Rogozenko, Istanbul 2000. If black had played the correct dxc4! on either move 10 or move 12, he would have had equal chances. Goldin’s natural move has also been seen.

9…Be7 10.Nxg6 Karpov got nowhere with 10. g3 Bh5! and drawn in 31 moves, Karpov-Bacrot Cannes 2000. 10. cxd5!? looks stronger. After 10…cxd5 11. Nxg6 hxg6 12. Bd3 Nc6 13. O-O-O, black missed the mirror move 13…O-O-O! and lapsed with 13…a6, going on to lose in Malakhov-Volkov, Sochi 2004.


Position after 10…hxg6. A very critical moment. To cackle or not to cackle?

11.Rc1 This is an important moment. Van Wely was successful twice (vs. Volkov and Sokolov) with 11. O-O-O! here. For example, 11. O-O-O Nbd7 12. cxd5! Nxd5 13. Kb1 Nxc3+ 14. Bxc3 and white is clearly better (Van Wely-Sokolov, Amsterdam 2002, and 1-0, 55 moves. Or, 11. O-O-O a6 12. Kb1 dxc4 13. Bxc4 b5 14. Bd3 Rxh2 and here, 15. Ne4! is strong with white advantage (15. g4?! was played, but white won a long game anyway, Van Wely-Volkov, Panormo 2002, 1-0, 79). After 11. O-O-O, 11…dxc4!? looks critical. 12. Bxc4 b5 13. Be2!? a6 14. Kb1?! was Tregubov-Bareev, and black won a tough struggle, 0-1 40 moves, Venacu 2006. It’s easy to find improvements for white. First of all, in the game, 14. e4! is strong (14…Rxh2? 15. e5! with a big edge). Secondly, the more active 13. Bd3!? (with Nc3-e4 ideas) is a tricky try one move earlier. Black’s position is very dangerous after 13…Rxh2 14. Qc2!. Conclusion: 11. O-O-O! is strong!

11…Nbd7 12.cxd5 exd5 12…Nxd5! is fine for black. For example, 13. e4 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Bh4+! (the point!) and black is happy.

13.e4 13. g3 Bd6 got white nowhere in Chiburdanidze-Zhukova, Istanbul 2000, and drawn in 16 moves.

13…dxe4 14.fxe4 Rxh2 14….Rd8! is perfectly good for black. The text is OK too but chances are still balanced. We are now out of book and it’s …. about even.

15.Rxh2 Qxh2 16.Qxb7 The computer move 16. e5 is playable. One humorous line is 16…Nxe5!? 17. dxe5 Qxe5+ 18. Kd1 Rd8 19. Qxb7?? Qf4! and wins.

16…Rb8 17.Qxc6 Rxb2 18.Nb5 Qh4+ 19.Kd1 Qf2

Position after 19…Qf2. White falls on his own Claymore.

20.Qa8+?? A horrific blunder that loses on the spot. 20. Qc8+! is drawn. For example, 20…Bd8 21. Be2 Qg1+ 22. Be1 Qe3 (or 22…Nxe4 23. Nc7+ Ke7 24. Nd5+ with a perpetual check) 23. Rc2! (guarded by the queen!) Rb1+ 24. Rc1 Rb2 25. Rc2 with a repetition. White must have missed something very simple.

20…Bd8 21.Be2 Qg1 22.Be1 Qxg2 Oops. There is no 23. Rc2 defense because the white queen is on a8, not c8. So white could already resign.

23.Bd2 Qg1 24.Be1 Qe3 25.Rc8 25. Nc7+ Ke7 is just a spite check.

25…Qxe2+ 26.Kc1 White has seen enough and resigns before black can play 26…Rxb5. An unusual collapse on Goldin’s part.


Here’s an important last round game – the winner qualified for the US Championship (to be held also in Tulsa). Once again the Gruenfeld triumphed.

IM Salvijus Bercys – GM John Fedorowicz Round 7, Gruenfeld Defense

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Nf3 c5 8.Be3 Qa5 For 8…cxd4, see Yermolinsky-Movsisyan discussed above.

9.Qd2 O-O 10.Rc1 The most popular, but 10. Rb1 is a major alternative. Statistically, 10. Rb1 scores a little better.

10…Rd8 11.d5 e6 12.c4 Qxd2 13.Nxd2 b6 14.Be2 Na6 15.O-O GM Khenkin is a proponent of the weird 15. Nb1!?. After 15. Nb1 f5 16. f3 fxe4 17. fxe4 Bb2 18. Rd1 exd5 19. cxd5 Re8 the chances were balanced and the game was drawn in 24 moves, Khenkin-Gutman Bad Wiessee 2002.

15…Nb4 Still the mainline, we are following 18 games in ChessBase. Nevertheless, the position appears to promise zero for white so it’s a mystery why it has occurred so often.

16.a3 Na2 Black’s knight wanderings are actually very logical. White has proven nothing in practice starting from this point.

Position after 16…Na2. White has nothing.

17.Rc2 Nc3 18.Bd3 White plays a slightly less common move now. The most common move is the awkward looking 18. Bf3. However, black won after 18. Bf3 exd5 19. cxd5?? (19. exd5! Bf5 20. Rcc1 equal) 19…Ba6 20. Rfc1 Ne2+ 21. Bxe2 Bxe2 22. f3 Bd3 with an obvious advantage, R. Stone – Ilya Gurevich, Chicago 1992.

18…Ba6 19.Bg5 Some white players have preferred 19. Nb1? here, but it’s just a blunder after 19…exd5 20. Nxc3 d4 with a big black edge after 21. Nd5 dxe3 22. fxe3 Be5.

Position after 19. Bg5. Time for a surprise!

19…exd5!? TN I have not been able to locate this move, hence I am labeling it a Theoretical Novelty (TN). Previously seen was 19…Rd7!? and black has quite a good game. For example, 19…Rd7 20. Rfc1 h6 21. Bf4 exd5 22. Rxc3 Bxc3 23. Rxc3 g5 24. Bg3 dxc4 25. Nxc4 Rd4 26. Bf1 Rad8 27. f4?? Rxe4 and black went on to win, Tunik – Timofeev, St. Petersburg 2002. 27. f3! of course was correct with an equal game. The conclusion is that the entire line is harmless. White has to seek improvements earlier.

At this point, according to Monroi, black had spent 1 minute and 30 seconds executing all these moves! The sacrifice is made even more attractive by the fact black is not risking anything. His position is very solid after white grabs the exchange with the bishop pair and an extra pawn.

20.Bxd8 White, surprised, took 8 minutes on this and now had 1:02 remaining.

20…Rxd8 21.exd5 Nxd5 22.Re1 Nf4 23.Bf1? Passive. White only spent one minute on this clunker. 23. Be4! is clearly stronger. White is in no danger after 23…Ne6 24. Nf3 Bf6 25. g3. Or, 23…Nd3? 24. Bxd3 Rxd3 25. Re8+ and white is too active.

23…Ne6 24.Nb3 Weird. 24. Nf3 is more natural.

24…Bb7 25.a4?! White’s moves are all connected to a poor plan of queenside action. He could have still bailed out with 25. Rd2 and a likely draw.

25…a5 26.Ra2 Bc3 27.Rc1 Bb4 28.f3?! 28. Be2, guarding d1 and contemplating Rd1, looks better.

28…Bc6 29.Kf2 Kg7 30.Be2 Nd4 31.Nxd4 cxd4 32.Bd3 Re8 33.Be4? This move, losing a key pawn, is too cavalier and should just lose. Most players would just wait. However, black reacts inaccurately to give white one more chance on move 40.

33…Bxe4 34.fxe4 Rxe4 35.Rd1 Bc5 36.Rd3 f5 37.Re2 Kf6?! The clever 37….g5! is stronger here to rule out the white possibility mentioned in the note to white’s 40th move.

38.h3 h5?! And here, black had 38…Rf4+ and a later …g5, or 38…g5 right away. The idea is to take away h3-h4 for white.

39.Kf3 Ke5

Position after 39…Ke5. Last Chance.

40.Rd1? The last chance to resist was 40. h4! to hold black up on the kingside. White might even be able to hold the position with careful play; it’s up to black to demonstrate progress.

40…g5! Now it’s really all over. The rest is torture.

41.Rd3 Bb4 42.Rd1 Bc5 43.Rd3 g4+ 44.Kf2 h4 45.Kf1 Bb4 46.Rd1 Rxe2?! The simplest is 46… gxh3 47. gxh3 f4 with total domination.

47.Kxe2 Ke4 48.Rf1? Very bad. White has to try to hold the 3rd rank with 48. Rd3 and make black demonstrate a plan.

48…d3+ 49.Kd1 gxh3 50.gxh3 f4 51.Rg1 f3 52.Rg6 f2 53.Rf6 Bc5 White is paralyzed and gives up.